Promoting safe Ambulatory Habits

This project ran between August 2016 and December 2016. This was also a national collaboration among five universities across the contingent United States, alphabetically:  University of Colorado Boulder , Case Western Reserve University, Michigan State University, New York University, and Northwestern University. The challenge was sponsored and funded by Medline Industries.


Problem: Our health care system is complicated. Developing a new mobility device with an understanding of the complex system it participates can dramatically improve the chance of short and long-term recovery of patients.


Existing research shows that the elderly population (technically termed as the geriatric population) with an injury tend to become even less mobile and frail. While some hospitals have tried to address this issue, more must be done. There are also cases of elderly persons who are discharged from the hospitals with very limited assistance and little to no physical therapy. Both these cases increase the chances of another accident. Developing an assistive device for mobility, which could be used by patients in hospitals or home could have a major impact in improving their health and life.


Solution: The Urban Walker


Mission: To can we ensure the effective use of mobility devices to help patients ‘get back on their feet’ after a temporary injury.


Impact: Medline industries is in the process of patenting the idea


Tools: Rapid prototyping, UX design, human factors, solidworks, CNC



The project was announced by Design for America National in August 2016. After a good 2 weeks of hunting at NYU, 6 team members were selected. The challenge was to build a mobility device that helped the elderly. The team decided to focus upon the elderly with temporary mobility issues, because if the temporary issues were taken care of, there would be less chances of dealing with permanent issues. The team did an 8 week design sprint where they spoke with experts such as Anita Perr (Occupational Therapist), Abraham Brody (Associate Director, Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing), and our mentor, Shraddha Bhatia (Physical Therapist).

The elderly face mobility issues because of the environment they were living in. Hence, the team decided to focus on the population in the New York City area. After conducting various interviews with many elderly, the team synthesized onto three solutions, but finally decided to build an walker suitable for the urban population.


The team worked on several prototype concepts. Ultimately, they designed a walker which was safe and user friendly to help the elderly not only recover, but recover in a faster and motivated way. The Urban Walker is a temporary mobility device for the geriatric population– to be used after an injury– that motivates them to get back on their feet quickly, and avoid long term negative consequences by promoting activity through personalization. The walker is compact, has a light, has glow-in-the dark features, comfortable handlebars, extendable legs, customizable leg caps, and flexible padding. When tested with the users at the senior community center, they liked the, especially the comfortable handlebars and the compact nature of the walker. Medline is looking into patenting the concept.



“What I saw in the presentations is terrific! The research done here all is on track and well done and the solutions you’ve designed are very impressive.”   – Andy Mills, President of Medline Industries.


“Every team brought something new to the table, which is not easy to do in a 50 year-old industry.”  – Emily Berman, Senior Product Manager of Medline Industries.


The prototype is in display at the NYU Tandon MakerSpace.



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